Officials from the New York's Department of State is warning residents to be aware of a new scam that can instantly steal their banking information.

If you've been saving for a well-deserved spring or summer break, you might want to move that money into an account that cannot be so easily accessed.

Scammers have upped their game when it comes to gleaning banking information from unsuspecting, hard-working people.

Skimmer Scams on the Rise in New York

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Recently, four Romanian nationals were busted in Queens that scammed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Patch said the four implanted their own skimming devices on ATM machines for nearly 2 years, which allowed them to steal the debit and credit card information from 600 victims.

The criminals would then use their victims' information to clone their cards. They were caught a few weeks ago and now face multiple charges.

This scam is increasing across New York State. Skimmers are devices that are made to look like official point-of-sale terminals, like pin pads and card readers on ATMs and gas machines. These gadgets are capable of recording a victims PIN and card information, and allowing criminals to clone the credit or debit card for their use.

Thieves had made skimmers look so convincing, they're tricking an alarming number of people.

Watch the video below to see how sophisticated these gadgets are. Could you spot the difference?

Scammers have also been able to replicate inside keypad terminals so perfectly, they are now able to sneak them into gas stations and stores. It takes under 20 seconds to install one, as seen in this viral video below. You can skip to 1:25 to watch the security footage.

Now that skimmers are appearing inside stores, the NY Department of State has updated its guidance on how residents can protect their bank accounts.

How to Spot a Card Skimmer

Photo from NYSP of skimming device placed over card reader at Walmart. Police the device was designed to look just like the actually card readers found at Walmart.
Photo from NYSP of skimming device placed over card reader at Walmart. Police the device was designed to look just like the actually card readers found at Walmart.

When skimmers first became a problem, they were most commonly found on outdoor gas pumps that were away from the cameras and where the cashier could easily see.

People were encouraged to go inside gas stations to pre-pay for their gas, as the card readers inside were deemed safe. Back then, the thought was scammers weren't bold enough to try their luck where security cameras and watchful eyes could see their every move.

Read More: Watch out for Dangerous Tracking Scam Targeting NY Cellphones

Unfortunately for us, scammers realized more money can be made by taking over card reading terminals in gas stations, stores, and to-go restaurants like Starbucks. Now that it takes less than a minute to slap them on top of legitimate card machines, residents are once again asked to tell the difference between a legitimate and fraudulent device.

The DOS is urging residents to ask these questions before inserting their card:

Are there any odd wires sticking out of the ATM? Is there tape or tape residue on the slot? Is the reader an “off” color compared to the ATM?

While skimmers have become extremely convincing, there are minute differences that set them apart from the device they're copying.

For inside pin pads, these devices can appear slightly wider than regular readers. While most of us probably don't have the dimensions of a real card reader memorized, it might be worthwhile to learn this information.

Also, some people have uncovered skimmers by just giving the device a jiggle or tug to see if it peels off or comes loose.

Others noted that the keys on skimmers appear much tougher to press on and encourage others to stop putting in their information if feels suspicious.

What to Do If You Accidentally Put Your Card in a Skimming Device

Photo by on Unsplash
Photo by on Unsplash

Police say the best way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim is to get into the habit of regularly checking your bank account. That way, you can keep track of your purchases and spot any suspicious transactions.

Some scammers may try to empty out your account in one go, but that increases the likelihood of your bank flagging the transaction as suspicious and declining the sale.

When a skimmer steals your information is stolen and criminals make a clone of your card, they will likely make a few "test" purchases that don't seem out of the ordinary. That is why police are stressing people to take account for everything their purchase and immediately flag any suspicious transactions.

Once you know your card has been compromised, contact your bank immediately and they will instantly invalidate the number on the back of your card. They will then send you a new one by mail and most likely reimburse you for the money you lost.

Time to Use Cash Again?

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It seems the risks of using cards, even those with chips, are increasing. While less Americans are now carrying cash, authorities say it might be worth it to resume paying for your gas and groceries with it.

The DOS encourages residents to only withdraw money from ATMs that are inside of the bank and "avoid low traffic or low light areas because they are less secure then bank ATMs."

Officials also warn residents to block the view of the keypad if someone is standing behind you in line, to ensure they aren't observing you input your PIN.

You can also manually withdraw your money from a bank teller, either using their drive up options or at the desk.

For those who'd rather not deal with paper currency, mobile wallet apps like Apple or Google pay will also help protect banking information.

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